Jamaica Gleaner / The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) was given two thumbs up on Sunday night for what guests dubbed a well-executed evening of excellence at their annual awards ceremony.

The JaRIA awards are held annually to celebrate the contribution of some of Jamaica’s most outstanding music professionals, past and present.

Oftentimes referred to as the ‘Jamaican Grammys’, the ceremony held at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston. There was no physical red carpet, but the fanfare usually associated with an evening of musical excellence was ever present.

Awardees and their guests donned their Sunday best as they came out in their numbers to support the event that has continued to recognise the work of the men and women in the local industry. Pointing out that the event has improved significantly over the years, several individuals, including the Minister of Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, congratulated JaRIA for keeping the awards going even in difficult times.

Minister Grange, who was being honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award for her dedication to the music industry, said the industry has come a far way, and credited organisations such as JaRIA for their work in ensuring that the reggae legacy is maintained.

“This is an industry that has come a very long way. We’ve had a lot of sacrifices from individuals who have passed, who have contributed, some are still with us, and we have to recognise them at events like these,” she said. “I want the young people to give a round of applause for the veterans and the pioneers, those who keep going to ensure that reggae music keep going.”

Similar sentiments were shared by Dr Donna Hope, who was accepting the award for Iconic Male Artiste in the Industry on behalf of Burning Spear.

In her address, Dr Hope applauded JaRIA for continuing its recognition of what she describes as the richest part of our culture.

“One of the richest parts of our heritage, the richest part of our culture, is the music, and we have to recognise as we stand here tonight, celebrating with JaRIA and the music industry … that we understand how important Jamaican music is across the world,” she said.

Having heard individuals express how much the ceremony means to Jamaica, Ibo Cooper used the opportunity to plea with Jamaicans who have not already joined the organisation, to do so. Lamenting that it is a struggle each year to execute the events in reggae month, Cooper expressed that in order for the celebrations to continue, the organisation needs financial support.

“I want to take time out to thank every person who has been on the JaRIA board and on the various committees over the last nine

years, because they are unpaid volunteers who selflessly helped to brand Reggae Month on the international stage,” he said.

“Over the years, the industry has had a love-hate relationship with itself. People speak of JaRIA as another person, but JaRIA is not Ibo or Freddie or Junior or Charles. JaRIA is the whole industry … . We love criticise JaRIA and say ‘dem man deh’, … when, if we just made a small contribution, a lot of the errors that we criticise could be fixed, because we would have personnel and resources to do the things. I’m making an impassioned plea to you please, be JaRIA members, you don’t have to come to any meeting … but help the organisation to help the industry,” he urged.

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